A Wing & A Prayer
AWAP blends Eric Greene’s academic and nonprofit expertise to advance projects, campaigns and research tackling the complexities of our relationships with other animals and with ecosystems. We help to explore and represent these relationships in compelling ways, and to improve those relationships at home and across communities. When appropriate, we apply behavior change models to achieve positive outcomes for these projects.
Animals & Culture Studies – Innovations in Higher Ed
Beginning in the early 1980s, Eric developed the first transdisciplinary programs in Animals and Culture Studies, designed to explore our perceptions of nonhuman animals (real and symbolic, as individuals and as groups) cross-culturally, and the complexities of our relationships with them. His work is inspired by notions of compassion, social justice, environmental ethics, and various human-oriented interdisciplinary studies programs while illuminating the subjectivity and agency of individual animals (as well as the historical resistance to considering and valuing their individuality, sentience, connections, and emotions).
Although transdisciplinary, Eric rooted the field in cultural anthropology due to its emphasis on culture, community, critical thinking, comparative ethics, and holism. Likewise, intrinsic to the field are the meanings and experiences that have historically been attributed to being human, including human (dis)connections with ‘Nature.’ (Since its introduction, others refer to and redefined the field as ‘animal studies,’ ‘anthrozoology,’ ‘critical animal studies,’ or other variant).
In 2010, Eric began working in an emerging subfield he calls Animal Death Studies / Zoothanatology, to explore notions, practices, and mourning of death and dying for other species as well as humans, cross-culturally. Much of that work has been orchestrated through the Green Pet-Burial Society. He also examines the real and symbolic role of other species within the context of our interspecies families (see Family Spirals® below).
Eric graduated with a B.A. in Animals and Culture Studies from Binghamton University and continued his inquiry through an innovative M.A. program at Vermont College (now housed at The Union Institute and University), followed by advanced study in cultural anthropology at The New School for Social Research.
Animals & Culture Studies Program – Miami-Dade College
In 1990, Eric created and taught the pioneering Animals & Culture Studies Program at Miami-Dade College for nearly four years. He developed curricula for six core courses:
- Cultural Anthropology – Cross-cultural perceptions of nonhuman animals
- Physical Anthropology – Human animals and constructions of sociobiology
- Ethics – Animals in human ethical systems
- Humanities – Reflecting animals in art, architecture, music, drama, literature and philosophy
- Social Problems – Sexism, racism, speciesism and other oppressions in the US
- International Relations – Socio-political considerations for ecological preservation
Classes were conducted as transdisciplinary seminars in which students would be introduced to key concepts in animals and culture studies. Those enrolled in the program would apply this learning to their coursework in the six core courses. Students could also adapt animal-related themes to coursework in 30 additional courses (in sociology, economics, education, ecology, business and health sciences).
The Animals & Culture Studies Program provided Eric with opportunities to apply his teachings in communities throughout Dade County. He worked with campus galleries on key exhibitions (including one by Sue Coe), coordinated a Humane Education Village with the Miami Book Fair International, met with the publisher of The Miami Herald to review Eric’s evaluation of the Herald’s coverage of animal-related news, and served as co-chair of the Friends of the Dade County Animal Shelter.
Clients & Affiliations
Former clients include the Animals & Society Institute (ASI), to whom Eric provided consultation in strategic planning, fund development and communications. He served on their advisory council, and on their Human-Animal Studies Executive Committee. Eric also provided critical support in establishing the multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal Society & Animals and served on its editorial board. He conceived of ASI’s undergraduate journal, Sloth. In Los Angeles, he was also involved in bringing animal-themed exhibitions to online and brick-and-mortar galleries.
While living in Miami, FL, Eric served as co-Chair and Director of Humane Education for the Friends of the Dade County Animal Shelter (also defunct). In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, he co-coordinated veterinarians, animal protection organizations, army personnel, The Red Cross, volunteers, supplies and marketing in animal relief efforts. With the Miami Book Fair International, he organized an entire humane education village with various artistic, participatory and cross-cultural educational activities.
Visit Organizations to review other organizations served.
Eric is the founder of Family Spirals®, a capacity-building not-for-profit focusing on the role that family plays in our personal and public lives, and addressing family problems and relationships often overlooked by other providers, researchers, and funders. It is dedicated to family wellbeing through public engagement, program development, online resources, research, the arts, and capacity-building support to providers and communities. It is also being developed as a global think tank to address how local and global problems impact families.
Families shape our personal experiences, expressions, and identities and are key conductors of cultural learning and values. Family Spirals® addresses some of the most stigmatized, marginalized and complicated issues within families through its four programmatic centers:
- Center for Families with Animals – improving our relationships with animals and one another. We explore family violence holistically, including the linkages among pet, child, elder, spousal, and sibling abuse.
- Center on Sibling Dynamics™ – exploring sibling aggression, conflicts, and friendships. Sibling aggression (‘sibling rivalry’) is an often tolerated form of bullying.
- Center for the Adult Child™ – healing transgressions between children and parents. We’re launching with a program addressing in-law conflicts.
- Center on Cyberfamilies – Privacy, connectedness, and disruptions in a digital age. Addressing ways that technology may strengthen or weaken family bonds.
The Center for Families with Animals also hosts the Green Pet-Burial Society (GPBS). Founded in early 2010, GPBS takes a multilevel approach and addresses practical applications in promoting green burial options for a beloved pet’s remains, including whole-family eco-cemeteries where animal remains may be buried in the family plot. The creation of conservation pet and whole-family cemeteries is also a mechanism by which to establish and maintain wildlife preserves. Such programs play a unique role in bridging humane and environmental communities. GPBS is a pioneering force in the emerging subfield of Animal Death Studies (in 2010 he coined the term Zoothanatology).
Greene, Eric. 2003. Honoring Memory: Animals, the Holocaust and Social Marketing in PsYETA News, 23:2-3. (a much edited version of original article)
Greene, Eric S. 1995. Ethnocategories, Social Intercourse, Fear and Redemption: Comment on Laurent’s ‘Definition of the Category Mushi … ‘ in Society and Animals, 3 (1): 79-88.
Greene, Eric S. 1993. Gender, Politics and Spiritual Transformation: Comment On Lawrence’s ‘The Symbolic Role of Animals … ‘” in Society and Animals, 1 (1): 39-44.
What’s in a name?
Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer, 1943, by Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh
From Eric Greene: I’ve always loved this expression; my mother used it occasionally. It was only after choosing it to name EverGreene’s Animal Division that I learned of its origin. “On a wing and a prayer” was part of the title of a popular WWII song with a fox-trot melody that referred to a damaged airplane coming back to base. I like the metaphorical trajectory:
the term ‘wing’ from bird anatomy > metaphorically refers to wings of an airplane > used in a popular song that struck a chord with the American public > and used ever since as an expression of hope: despite the odds, we can still manage to reach safety.
Worldwide, other animals are routinely degraded and killed by humans. Since those who work on the front lines to help animals and preserve habitat often confront incredible violence, reference to a war song is appropriate. AWAP provides the level of skill necessary to successfully bring projects and missions safely home.
updated July 18, 2022